County election board to meet to discuss complaint filed by Andrews man about date stamp error

The Huntington County Election Board will meet later this month to discuss a complaint filed by an Andrews Town Council member seeking an investigation into an incorrect date stamped on candidacy papers filed by a member of the Huntington Township Advisory Board.

The meeting has been tentatively scheduled for April 13 at 9 a.m. in the Courthouse, just prior to a previously scheduled test of voting machines.

Raymond R. Tackett, of Andrews, filed the complaint Friday, April 2.

The complaint reads: "I would like to file a complaint with the Huntington county election board for them to investigate the reported incident surrounding the filing of a person for this years primary and the actions of Huntington county clerks manual changing of a date stamp on the primary form."

Although Tackett did not specify in his complaint who the person was, he said later he was referring to candidacy papers filed by Kristopher Underwood, who plans to run for the Republican nomination to the Huntington Township Advisory Board. Underwood has served on that board for eight years.

Underwood says he filed his candidacy papers in the Huntington County Clerk's office on Friday morning, April 19, the final day of the filing period. County Clerk Fran Felts says that when she date stamped Underwood's paper, she noticed that the machine had stamped the date as Feb. 20 instead of Feb. 19. She used a pen to change the 20 to a 19, she says, then reset the machine to the correct date.

A March 29 posting on a Web site operated by Felts' primary opponent, Gary Snyder, alleged that the clerk's office "had been caught cheating on a simple candidate deadline."

Felts says she merely corrected a machine error and admits she could have chosen a better-documented way of correcting that error.

The election board is composed of Carmen Oswalt, who serves as president, and Carol Grove. Felts, as county clerk, serves as secretary of the board and votes only if necessary to break a tie.

Oswalt previously said she did not believe there was any intentional wrongdoing on the part of Felts or Underwood.

"It's really just an attack on Fran and it's not justified at all," Grove says. "I really don't know what's going to come of it."

Tackett says he wants the election board to determine whether or not Felts violated an Indiana law making it a Class D felony if someone knowingly "falsely makes or fraudulently defaces or destroys a declaration of candidacy ..."

"If the county clerk is guilty of violating those election laws, then she needs to be held accountable for that," Tackett says.

Tackett says he initially took his concerns to the Indiana State Police, where an official told him that any investigation would be under the jurisdiction of the election board, not the ISP.